Performance art

Creative agency Atomic and British photographer Giles Revell produce a dynamic campaign to promote the newly renovated Royal Opera House

Colourful forms whirl through a pitch black frame to the melodic sounds of The Humming Chorus from Puccini’s Madam Butterfly, like a dynamic digital evocation of Eadweard Muybridge, or the paintings of futurist Umberto Boccioni. These abstract human shapes, almost like butterflies in motion, are ballet and opera stars from the Royal Opera House captured on film to publicise the newly transformed Royal Opera House, which has just emerged from a five-year renovation by Stanton Williams Architects.

The film is part of a campaign that also includes print, orchestrated by London-based agency Atomic in collaboration with leading British photographer Giles Revell. It took three days to capture the choreographed moves using pioneering digital technology that was inspired by the scientist Harold Edgerton, who was renowned for his stroboscopic photography in the 1960s and inventor of the high speed flash.

‘We set out to find a new way to capture ballet and opera because we knew that whatever we said, if the imagery looked as you would expect an Opera House to look, it would just feel traditional’, says Dave Henderson, executive creative director of Atomic. ‘We knew we had to create something of very high quality, that’s as enjoyable to take in as a performance itself. We started circling around the kind of thing we wanted, “sculptures of light” we called it, fleeting moments caught in time yet somehow tangible, with shadow and depth.’

Revell’s contribution was essential, says Henderson, the photography taking it ‘to another level’.

The videos are designed so that the movement is in a state of flux with 100 frames of footage on screen at all times, advancing and decaying with the passage of time and the stills, in a single image capture the abstract beauty of the performers’ movement, each frame expressive with a precision ‘akin to a high end Swiss timepiece,’ adds Revell.